How Should Working Women Plan For Their Rich Retirement
Jun 12, 2019

Author: Aditi Murkute

(Image source: Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash)

Women are the embodiment of a nurturer, caregiver, mother, sister, wife, and doting daughter. In Hindi, she is referred to as Nari, associated with Shakti (power). As she is abundantly powerful & fearless and can defeat anyone who crosses or harms her family.

Over the years, slowly and steadily through education, she has become capable enough to earn her livelihood and lead an independent life. As per a report publication from MOSPI, The female literacy rate for 2011 increased sharply from 53.7% in 2001 to 64.6% in 2011. The female level wise out turn/pass out in Higher education for female was highest for M.Phil level at 62% in 2015-16, which has increased from 58% in 2014-15.

As observed that working women are highly independent, some have reached the moon, launched satellites/rockets, but when it comes to making personal financial and investment decisions, they tend to seek advice and permission from a male member of the family (father, brother, husband, son).

[Read: Here's What Could Make Or Break Your Financial Goals ]

Ironically, in most Indian households it's the woman who manages the monthly expenditure and engages in prudent budgeting. But when investing for her financial goals through an avenue or mutual fund scheme that has performed well and consistently across market cycles, she asks her husband/father/brother whether she should invest in it or not and how much to invest, instead of consulting a financial adviser.

Well the point I want to make is that working and independent women are capable of making their own investment decisions and do not have to rely on anyone. As long as they are informed about financial planning, think about their post retired life, and take necessary step to secure it.

Most women have jobs to give them financial security and for their survival. But building a retirement corpus still is not considered an important milestone of their life until it is too late.

Why working women should take control of their finances...

It becomes imperative to think about your retirement if you are working woman who probably wants to stay single, or who is divorced, separated, or you are widowed with/out children. Here are a couple of reasons to seriously think about your retirement plan:

  • Wide pay disparity between genders

  • Number of working years is lesser/lower with women

  • Women tend to have higher life expectancy

So how should you go about it?

Do you recall my college bestie, Nirmala's story?

She wanted financial security and I explained financial planning to her for those golden years of life.

A couple of days ago Nirmala informed me that her brother and dad were urging her to forego the decision of investing for her retirement because they wanted to financially support her.

This shocked me. I asked, 'How long will their support last!? Five years, seven years.... then what?'

The harsh truth is eventually parents pass away and the money that's left will evaporate sooner because of accelerating inflation.

Her brother has his own family to fend for and will have to manage his expenses accordingly. Hence, he may be unable to keep his word of financially supporting Nirmala during her retirement phase.

'What should I do?', she inquired.

I advised her to think about the answers to the following personal questions:

  1. When do I want to retire?

    When you ask yourself this question, you can gain an insight as to where you stand and the number of working years you have in hand before retirement.

  2. How do I want to retire?

    This will put things in perspective, as to how you want to spend the rest of your retirement years. Do you want to be worrying about managing daily expenses or focusing on yourself, pursuing hobbies, and leading a blissful retirement?

  3. How long will I live post retirement?

    The reality is that due to advancements in medical facilities and higher awareness about health, life expectancy has increased. As reported by the Human Development Index Report, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), India and the Sample Registration Survey (SRS), based on the life table 2010-14; the Average Life Expectancy of Indians has increased beyond 69 years; and it has increased by more than 10 years in the past 20 years.  And women live longer than men.

    Hence our post-retirement years can be extremely unpredictable because you never know when the inevitable end comes by. Also, these years are the most crucial ones as you no longer work but require steady income for your survival.

  4. Will my current savings help me retire rich peacefully?

    The biggest myth is that current savings will last till as long as one lives post retirement.

    But as I mentioned earlier, they cannot be quantifiable, hence you can only prepare yourself to lead the life you want, i.e. peaceful and rich/self-sufficient.

    And current savings will vanish within 3-4 years because it cannot counter the rate of inflation, considering the rising expenses of fuel, food, clothing, and other lifestyle expenses.

    [Read: Where Should You Invest - Fixed Deposits Or Debt Mutual Funds?]

    Hence plan for your retirement.

    If you act appropriately in advance, you will be able to address the risk head-on and avoid "going broke" for as long as you live.

  5. Why is planning for retirement important?

    A retirement plan is imperative if you want to lead a blissful life and it will help you:

    • Fund your daily expenditures of post retired life

    • Tackle inflation adeptly

    • To deal with medical emergencies

    • Deal with life's contingencies

    • Achieve financial freedom and be independent

    Nirmala agreed to everything I explained and immediately she asked me the next question:

  6. How should I plan for my retirement?

    Retirement is one of the most essential goals of life which we do not seriously think about until we are at the brink of it. But one should start planning for it as soon as one starts earning. It is more important for working/non-working women as they have less income, outlive their spouses (if married), and will not have to rely on anyone for financial support (enjoy financial independence).

    Begin with setting life goals- short term (higher education), mid-term(marriage), and long term (retirement).

    [Read: Are You Ready With Your Financial Goal Worksheet?]

    1. Evaluation process

      When you are aware of when you want to retire, calculate the retirement corpus you will require depending on your current savings factoring in inflation, and the number of years you will work to accumulate the desired corpus.

      Actually, estimate the future value you will require based on your daily expenses during your retirement. To know how much you require for your retirement, click here.

    2. Decide saving amount

      Based on the above values, you will be able to derive at a monthly savings amount required to achieve your retirement corpus. Engage in budgeting exercise and give up on impulsive buying habits. Avoid debt-burden. Save more.

    3. Choosing investments and creating an optimum portfolio

      Every investment avenue has a risk associated with it, so choosing the best out of available options is one uphill task. Alternatively, you can choose a combination of equity, debt, and gold as per your risk profile. Create a well-diversified portfolio that will not only mitigate the risk/s, but that will also provide inflation-adjusted returns.

      Mutual fund is one such worth investment proposition that gives you an opportunity to invest across various asset classes and mitigate the risk with proper diversification to suit your risk profile.

    4. Invest systematically

      Investing in direct plans via Systematic Investment Plans (SIPs) helps you accelerate your returns. With the SIP mode of investment, your money is deployed in a mutual fund scheme (equity schemes and/ or debt schemes). When you invest a smaller amount of money regularly and systematically in mutual fund units, you mitigate the shocks of volatile equity markets to build your retirement corpus

      Besides, due to the averaging of costs and the power of compounding, SIPs makes for a smart investment option without you having to time the market.

    5. Track your investments

      Your retirement plan needs to be monitored at regular intervals (at least once a year) to ensure you are on target to meet your objectives. Any changes in the income, expenses, retirement age, etc. needs to be incorporated in the retirement plan. Regular reviews will help you keep track of the growth of your investments so you can make the necessary adjustments to your portfolio and achieve financial freedom.

[Read: Things To Do To Keep Track Of Your Mutual Fund Performance & Investments]

Also, make sure the retirement plan meets your investment objectives in the changing market scenario.

She interrupted me, 'What about medical expenses and contingencies?'

You need to have an optimum medical insurance cover to take care of your medical and hospitalisation expenses.

Life's contingencies are like those uninvited guests that come knocking at your doorstep and you must be able to meet them with a smiling face. Similarly, build a reserve fund that will help you deal with unexpected and unforeseeable situations of life. Ideally, you should have funds that will cover your daily expenses for six months at least.

[Read: Have You Built A Rainy Day Fund Wisely? ]

Nirmala's case is one about a single, working woman; but if you are married, then planning for your retirement shouldn't be ignored. This will help to reduce your husband's financial responsibility. Plus, sharing this financial goal will help in accumulating more wealth for your blissful retirement together.

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